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Estancia Churrascaria is open. Who'll take the plunge?

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It opened today on Hwy 290 S next to the Holiday Inn Express, just east of Brody Lane. So, who will be brave and take the first plunge (and report back)? I passed by at 4PM - admittedly, not a busy hour - and noticed a group of workers smoking outside the entrance. Not a good sign ... not because they are not busy, but rather because they're loitering rather uprofessionally.

Other than that, I know nothing about the place.

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  1. My Brazilian friends went to the soft opening a couple nights ago and raved. It is not a corporate joint like Fogo, and is more a family run place. And for a while, a good value...i think they are doing $15 lunches and $20 or $25 dinners...that's "all you can eat". Let's get some takers!!!!

    6 Replies
    1. re: sambamaster

      Jumped on my hog and rolled 12 miles down there in a subtropical style downpour for lunch yesterday...it was very good.The much talked about salad bar was ok,fresh mozz and taboulleh starred the veg portion of the show...lackluster artichoke hearts and woody asparagus competed with woeful tomatoes for lesser status....the meats were another matter altogether....they kept em coming and I managed to power through three rounds before giving up.Obviously they brought out giant skewers of lesser cuts off the bat,but the rare eye of round was still delicious,the bacon wrapped chicken was glorious...fatty salty bacon had permeated the flesh of the bird....finally beef tenderloin...normally not my favorite cut,was stellar,dripping wonderfully with good salty blood and juices.Yum.The mashed potatoes were lackluster but the fried yucca reminded me of when you get fries that have accidentally stayed in the basket for a couple runs through the fat.Outstanding.The little buttery rolls were also good but the plantains were not fully ripened.For 15 bones a very good value.Nice to see a flock of petite Brazilian beauties powering through an AMAZING amount of meat at the next table too.

      1. re: scrumptiouschef

        Thanks for the review scrumptiouschef. I'm definitely going to check it out this week.

        The place with the great salad bar everyone was talking about was not Estancia Churrascaria, it is Fogo De Chao. Fogo doesn't open until this fall/winter.

        1. re: Mike B

          Mike - do you mean that Fogo de Chao will open a location in the Austin area later this year? That would be great....

          1. re: markh8624

            mark, fogo is supposed to open in the space on 3rd street formerly occupied by houlihan's. hope this helps.

            1. re: ktown378

              thanks - I just noticed on Fogo's website that they have Austin listed as opening on 3rd St (the old Houlihan's) in "late 2007." Can't wait....

              1. re: markh8624

                yeah, that $50 salad bar is always worth waiting for!!!!!
                the original FdC in São Paulo is NOT rodizio as I recall (from a trip in 2000) which means the meats are grilled to order, not the endless parade, and though there was a salad bar, it was not the focus...the meats there are higher quality as a result and the price is more reasonable.

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      1. We went tonight and took the kids. I thought it was really good, and although there were some meats that were a bit overcooked (notably the chicken and the pork ribs), most of what we had compared favorably or was even better than what we've had at Fogo de Chao in Houston. And comparing the price - $24 per person - I'd take Estancia any day.

        I thought most all of the beef was good, especially the flavor of the garlic marinated stuff. The filet mignon was also excellent. I didn't see any lamb come around, but we might have just missed it.

        1. I love Churrascarias! With that said...

          I've had the pleasure of dining several times at Texas de Brasil and Fogo de Chao in Dallas, as well as Churrasco's in Houston (last weekend and over the past seven years). Churrasco's in Houston is a different experience - more formal service and actually my favorite of them all.

          We decided to check out Estancia Churrascaria for dinner this evening. I must give them some slack on a few fronts - they are newly opened, they don't have their liquor license and the servers, while very gracious and forthcoming, are quite inexperienced.

          Taking Churrasco's out of the mix, I'll have to compare to Texas de Brasil and Fogo de Chao.

          We were in and out of Estancia in about an hour, if not less. (The other two that I mentioned were more of an event, a couple of hours). The service was very hurried with no attention paid to the "more or no more card" placed at each table setting.

          The salad bar wasn't really comparable though I loved a few items, in particular the hearts of palm were very tender in the center, the artichoke hearts were very nice and the marinated pepper salad was great. As another poster mentioned, the asparagus was awful - woody was a nice way to describe it. The rest was... hmmm.

          Before finishing the salad portion, the skewers started coming and coming quickly. There was tenderloin and chicken wrapped in bacon (both dry), sausage (unmemorable), pork ribs (I didn't like but my sister did), house special of tenderloin in garlic (very strong garlic), some type of sirloin that absolutely rocked, and lamb that I didn't have the opportunity to try.

          They offered dessert which there is no way we could try after sampling everything else. Even if we wanted to, it was pretty uninspired stuff ... cheesecake and the like. They offered coffee which was requested, but never made it to the table.

          They are obviously trying really hard to put together the experience. I don't think they are succeeding yet.

          The building is odd, the staff is unskilled and I do believe that the quality of the meat is low, or maybe they have yet to determine how to keep it tasting fresh while waiting for clientele.

          I wanted to love this place because I think that the idea is great... to take a very overpriced concept to everyone... but low quality is easily recognized (or maybe reheated meats?).

          I do give an A+ to the staff. Although inexperienced, the service was fantastic!!! Sometimes, just knowing that they are trying makes for a memorable experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rene

            My friend and I tried it on Friday night just before 7. I've experienced Boi Na Braza in Atlanta (they also have a location in Dallas) and this did not compare at all.

            The first cut of filet mignon and several of the following cuts of sirloin were quite tasty. It began going downhill with the bacon-wrapped filet. The bacon was barely cooked and quite limp. Additionally, it had more of a proscuitto flavor that soaked into the filet (which was also gray in color and looked unappetizingly rare). Following that with the garlic beef which was too garlickly for me (and you're talking to a person who has put powdered garlic on pizza before...)

            I never saw the lamb at all. The "gauchos" were really pushing the chicken legs and sausage, and many of the beef dishes seemed to be difficult to find.

            The wait staff was a bit inexperienced and didn't provide the service bordering on fawning that some of the higher priced competitors provide. I agree about the gauchos not always following the cards on the table.

            I too felt rushed as compared to the several hour dinner I experienced at Boi Na Braza. This place has a lot of work to do to compete with the "chains" in the same genre, unless they decide to carve out a low-cost niche. Right now, for the same price, I'll take Texas Land and Cattle. (Of course, Morton's and Nick & Sam's aren't in the same price range.)

          2. A large group of us enjoyed our first trip this restaurant. A small, but fresh selection at the salad bar. We were severed by an eager to please wait staff, that were much easier with some to communicate in Spanish, but did provide overall good service. I think it reflects the labor shortage of experienced wait staff that Austin that is partially due to all the new restaurants Austin has to offer. The tenderloin and garlic beef were my favorites cuts. One of the best things was their lack of a liquor license that allows bring in a stellar selection of “big red wines” that complemented this meat feast. The desserts were surprising good and were huge portions. The only minor inconvenience was the lack of aisle space around our table. Another surprise was the check that averaged $37 per person, a good value for the all you can eat meal, bottled water, desserts, tax, & a 20% tip. We will be back again, hopefully before they get the liquor license. :)